The Houbara Bustard
An average Houbara bustard is almost 3 feet long beak-to-tail and has a wingspan of almost 6 feet. The Houbara bustard is an omnivore. They love to feed on seeds, shoots, insects and small animals such as reptiles, but they seldom drink water, instead obtaining most of their need for water from their food.
The Houbara Bustards are under threat from sand extraction and tourist development. They are threatened primarily by hunting as their meat is considered a delicacy. Traditionally, they are hunted using falcons. However, the use of firearms has increased the threat that hunters pose. The meat of these rare birds is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac and is sought after by princes and others to increase their sex drive. Other factors such as agricultural expansion, road construction and tourism development are causing widespread habitat loss. Control programs for insects such as locusts has also contributed to the smaller population of bustards due to poisoning. The Ashaafean Reserve aims to protect the habitat of the Houbara bustards and increase their numbers.